The Greatest Blessing

During a recent breakfast conversation, the question arose; “what is the greatest blessing you can receive in this life?” The answered varied depending on each person’s journey through life. Some answered “a large family,” another “financial independence,” yet another stated “totally in love with one awesome person.” Each person’s answer typically reflected their complex value system. For most of us though, the answer was the “one thing that would truly make us happy for the moment.” Yet would it?

The answer that grabbed my attention though was one that has taken years for this disciple to realize. In one of our recent small group meetings, one of the men (grandpa many times over) made the statement that he never realized until recently what life could be like living in a personal relationship with the living God. He grew up in a rule-oriented culture and didn’t experience the grace-based, life-giving life style until several years ago. Now looking back, he is amazed at the quality of life that fills his insides and expresses itself from the inside-out. For him life is not about the physical toys or accomplishments anymore (that is how he measured his life in the early days). Today it is about a personal relationship with the living King of Kings.

Yes the greatest blessing one can receive in this life is a personal relationship with the living Triune God. Yes, the same God who created the heavens and earth; implemented a plan for human redemption; and has big plans for humanity in a new age. A relationship built not on a contract but a commitment. Theologians like to name it a covenant. But a covenant is simply a committed promise between a faithful God and a double-minded mankind. God always fulfills His side of the promise no matter how many times we fail on our side. But more than his promises, the joy of knowing Him and Him knowing us is greater than any promise. Knowing Him is better than heaven, eternal life, or salvation itself. When one begins to enjoy hanging out with the living, Triune God for no other reason than the joy of the relationship, than one truly experiences the greatest blessing that this life has to offer. Anything else doesn’t even compare.

OUR PRAYER

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Holy True God, thank you for being true. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for designing our life to experience you more and more each day. Help us to become more intimate with you. No matter the circumstances, help us enjoy life the way you have created it to be. Help us to focus more of you and less of us each day. Whenever the circumstances may stink, help us truly to be grateful for life. You are always good. Let your goodness rub-off on us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, however we think, let it bring you glory. Let your blessings bless others. Help us to truly enjoy all of you forever and ever. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Faith-Building Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

The Power is With You and In You

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In our early business career, are we not usually exposed to various programs of self-development to provide us with an edge in our business dealings? You probably can easily recall attending seminars and workshops where you gained the latest management and personal insight in your field. You probably read books and listened to audio messages written by the latest guru of the times. You may have practiced exercises to maintain a positive mental attitude and to develop supreme self-confidence in yourself. Everything you did most likely was to build yourself so that you would have the edge over others. But somewhere through all this you may have, like I did, found it non-fulfilling. It didn’t satisfy the inner hunger, only strengthening the outer image that was being carried before others.

Then one day, like me, you received a “spiritual slap.” For those not familiar with the old TV after-shave commercial, it goes like this: a man is standing in  front of the bathroom mirror just putting down his razor after his morning shave. He reaches for a bottle of after-shave lotion, dabs a little on his hand and proceeds to slap his face. The punch line he states then is “Thanks, I needed that.” A spiritual slap is like that. It’s being spiritually slapped by our Heavenly Dad to awaken us from our blindness and stupor. It breathes a fresh aroma into our dull life. It jump-starts us for the day and hurdles us unto the next track meet. It revitalizes the soul. It brings a fresh stream of running waters in our life. It makes us want to stand up and dance. It’s the light bulb turning itself on in our inner being. After which, we only are able to humbly kneel before our Creator and thank Him for graciously being involved in our life, for giving us a spiritual breakthrough. That is what we call the “spiritual slap.”

Well, after I received one of these spiritual slaps, it became apparent that all the self-improvement going on in my life up to that time, was creating myself into an image of success. It was Michael working hard to develop solid habits of leadership, self-discipline, social charm so that Michael would look good in the eyes of others. So that Michael could get from life what Michael solely desired. So that Michael …Michael …Michael …etc. Do you get the point? Everything Michael did was built around Michael. It took God’s mercy to awaken me from the ignorance.

There is nothing wrong with working to improve the self. It’s that we need to build our life on a solid foundation where everyone comes out a winner. What good is it to gain the whole world for ourselves at the expense of others? When we pursue our selfish interest only to sacrifice “me, myself, and I” or “only to protect our little world,” don’t we generally do so at the expense of others?

Imagine a world where everyone only pursues their own interest without concern for others. A world where everyone pursues what they want without placing boundaries on themselves. A world where everyone pursues what they want without a peaceful formula to settle differences. Would that describe a world in chaos? How close is that to our present world? Do you know how war and strife starts between people? (James 4:1-3)

What does all this have to do with the power of the Holy Spirit?  Everything, plus more. The problem is that we work to change our self from the outside-in. We work to improve the outer image and forget the inner man. We play the role of creator in our life. We determine what is of value based on our own, limited, human understanding. It is a frustrating, difficult if not impossible work, to change one’s heart to be perfect like the Creator’s. It takes the Power of the Creator to change it. You and I with all the resources from the universities, research laboratories, and private/public institutions do not have the tools to make it happen. It takes God to make it happen.

When the Holy Spirit became active in our life, this life begins to change from the inside-out. I remember one instance that made me become aware of this change from the inside-out. In my early career, I was very impatient. I hated to wait for anything. I needed instant gratification or my insides would become a short circuit fuse box with wires exploding around it. A war would be ravaging in my emotional channels.  I wasn’t a pleasant person to be with at times like this. Anyhow, several years after the Holy Spirit became active in this life, I found myself waiting for an appointment with a gentleman. He was going to be late. Normally, I would wait for five minutes and if the client didn’t arrive, then I would leave. I didn’t have the patience to wait. But this time I found myself waiting. I just sat there reading a magazine letting the time go by. When his secretary came to get me, I looked at the time and notice it was over a twenty minute wait. I found myself chuckling down the corridor before I met him. It was a change from the inside-out that I didn’t do anything to make happen. It was simply the power of the Holy Spirit doing His work in my life. This was the first time that I really noticed a change in my character that I couldn’t take any credit for. It was here that the realization came that God is truly creating a masterpiece in His children if we surrender ourselves to Him and let Him change our inner being to be made totally in His Image and Likeness.

This is only one of the many powerful attributes on how the Holy Spirit blesses us. Another attribute of the Holy Spirit is the attitude that He instills in us. This is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life. You find yourself discouraged, but yet full with joy. You are angry, but still at peace. You feel emotionally hurt, yet still reach out in love. The list is endless. In Galatians, Paul writes about the attributes of the Holy Spirit in contrast to the satanic side of human nature (Gal 5: 16-25). He calls them the “fruit” of the Spirit and lists them as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And states that these spiritual qualities come in one’s life not by keeping any laws or rules or principles, but they come in one’s life by the Holy Spirit. They are a gift from God. Though one needs to believe and obey God to receive the Spirit (Act 5:32). The Holy Spirit doesn’t reside in the lives of people who are rebellious against God. But only upon those who truly have surrender their all into the hand of God. Typically, this is given at the time one is baptized and hands are place on you by church elders in prayer requesting God to impart the Holy Spirit in you; it’s when you make a public announcement that you have surrendered your life to God. There are volumes of books written on the Holy Spirit; about His divinity, His role in the Godhead, and His involvement in our life. My purpose is only to highlight His power to change our life and create within each disciple an overflowing, abundant, treasure of spiritual wealth that is ever refreshing and ever giving. It is a Power that changes lives from inside-out and touches the lives of everyone around you. It cannot be hidden for long.

My early frustration in walking with the Lord was trying to become a Christian by doing it all myself. I wanted to be like Jesus Christ and wanted to be like Him now. I was on the fast track to becoming the perfect Christian. No life long process for me. I had my Benjamin  Franklin habit list made out and began tackling each item on that list. I was going to become the perfect Christian overnight. No ten year plan for me. I was on the one year, fast track to holiness plan. Yes sir, the Christian world is going to rise up and take notice of me; the making of a Christian superstar. No stopping me. Well, that was my attitude; a self-centered approach of becoming a Christian. I started by  focusing on exercising more outward love. I would read scripture relating to the benefits of love. I would meditate on the fruits of love. I would pray asking God to make me more loving.  I would read books on being more loving.  I setup guidelines and rules of behavior to become more loving.  I did everything in my power to change myself to become more loving. Now, I probably became slightly more lovable then before I started all this. But, after many, many years of working at love, I had to admit we haven’t arrived to where I thought I ought to be. It was about this  time that I experienced another one of those “spiritual slaps.” In hindsight, while I was working to change myself in the area of love, God was working to change other areas of my life that I didn’t think was that necessary. In my youth, I was more arrogant, prideful, and supremely confident in myself than today. But didn’t think it was a problem that required priority attention. Instead, I focused on love. Meanwhile, while working on becoming more loving, the Holy Spirit worked on my interior heart and changed my attitude from the above three to a more humble, service-oriented, and faithful disciple of our Lord.

In looking back, I have come to realize that He is the Master Potter and we are only the clay. That there is great comfort in knowing that He knows what is top priority in our life and He will create His masterpiece in us. Our mission is to diligently yield to Him and trust Him to accomplish the work that He has started in us. Meanwhile, I have become more patient today then I was yesterday. But also realize that no matter how much more we become, it is still far short of the patience that God has for us. His patience is supreme. He is more patient than the most patient person you can think of multiplied many times over. The attitude and spiritual qualities that the Holy Spirit manifests within us are His qualities. He gives as much or as little as He pleases. They are all a gift from Him. Though He is very generous and wants to give us more than we ever ask or imagine, we must still ask and seek diligently. But we must realize that He has the final say.  We are not talking about a positive mental attitude (PMA).  Though God has more PMA than the top ten PMA’s of the world. To cultivate a positive mental attitude is something that we do ourselves apart from God. I know. I did. What the Holy Spirit offers is more than just PMA. They are more than emotional or mental attributes that we control. He implants within us a fruit seed that through proper cultivation grows within us to become like Him. Imagine a life where the fruit of the Holy Spirit overflows out from a person touching others; a life that is rich in love, joy and peace. Imagine being in a room with one dozen other people who are rich in love, joy and peace. You want. to experience a natural high? There are few greater highs than experiencing the richness of God with others.

Most people who I have met express the desire to have more love, joy and peace in their life. Yet most people pursue these qualities in a worldly fashion. Television and magazine commercials associate these qualities with physical items or activities. Movies portray that these qualities are only attained if we be willing to sin. Another life guru arrives on the scene with his philosophy to a path way of more love, joy and peace in your life. When in fact, the Holy Spirit is willing to start His work in you if you are willing to repent and surrender your life to the Creator of this universe. The problem most of us have is that we are not willing to do it God’s way. We either can’t believe it works, or we have witness Christian amateurs who never fully commit to discipleship, or we want an easier route that fits into our lifestyle. God laid out a simple plan outlined in the Bible that each person with a desire to know and seek may experience the power of Himself in their life. Why not give it a real try?

I’m sorry to say but many of us would not recognize the power of God if they were directly confronted by it. We think of God coming in great power to shake up the heavens and earth. Rarely do we think of God coming in a whisper. When Elijah sought an answer from God, he kept looking into the major events confronting him at the time. But God spoke to him in a whisper (I Kings 19:11-12). He speaks to many of us in the same way; in a very low key manner. Our problem is we just don’t recognize it because we don’t recognize God. We don’t recognize God because we don’t know Him. We don’t know Him, because we don’t invest much time in developing a meaningful relationship with Him. If we knew God better than we do, we would see the invisible fruit that He produces in the lives of those around us. You would see the fruit being produced in your life, your children, your mate, your parents, your friends, your business associates, etc. You wouldn’t have to look for physical signs or miracles. You would listen to the changes in people’s lives. You would feel the emotional change in lives. You would sense the peace and calmness in people while their world was being torn apart. You would notice something different in their life and write it off as a growing up thing. Ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to come into your life and change it. It takes faith. It takes belief. It takes a disciple of His fully surrendering personal ambitions, plans and dreams. It takes much. But it also receives much. And also gives much. God does anything He desires. And His desire is that you come to know Him and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Have you?

OUR PRAYER

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Oh Heavenly Dad, Thank you for giving us a Counselor, Coach, and Helper in The Holy Spirit. Let Your Spirit saturate us with You. Let Your Divine Fruit live in us, grow in us, and multiply in us so we can glorify Your name with all the people we meet. Help us to introduce You to each person we meet through Your Spirit. Let Your Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Mercy, Humility, and Self-Control be present always with each person we meet. Let them come to know You through me. Again, thank you for choosing me as your  vessel of encouragement and inspiration. Help me live this life in Your glory always. Amen.

 
Dr. Mike

 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD?

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I Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for  you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

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Matt. 22:29-32
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.  At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 

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John 11:24-26
Martha answered, “I know he (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;  and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

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I Cor 15:12-57
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made  subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?  And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day – I mean that, brothers – just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame.  But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies in another.  The sum has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and the star differs from star in splendor.So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.   If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, not does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.””Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!   He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Rev 20:4-6
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

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Acts 17:18-19
They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

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Phil 3:10-11
I (Paul) want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

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Acts 4:1-2
They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

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Luke 20:35-36
But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.  They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

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Luke 14:13-14
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

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How does your theology explain life after death in comparison with the resurrection from the dead?

All scripture taken from the New International Version Bible unless noted.

WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY ABOUT YOU BECOMING LIKE CHRIST?

2 Cor 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
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2 Cor 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
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2 Cor 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
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Gal 4:19-20
My dear children, for whom I (Paul) am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

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Gal 6:15
Neither circumcision nor un-circumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
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Eph 4:11-13
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
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Eph 4:22-24
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
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Col 3:9-10
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.NIV
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Phil 1:3-6
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
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Colossians 1:27-29
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
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2 Pet 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
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I John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
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Heb 12:7-10
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
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Phil 3:14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.All Scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.